Why the Confederacy Failed to Recreate the American Revolution

Detail of The Battle of Gettysburg. Lithograph published c. 1867. (Library of Congress)
The South invoked the Founders’ struggle for freedom — and ignored crucial differences in doing so.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE J uly 4 offers us a day to reflect on the American Revolution. Because it coincides as well with the conclusion of the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg in 1863, it is also a time to look back on the American Civil War. The men who led the Confederate States of America fought for a much worse cause than did the Founding Fathers, yet they drew inspiration from the Founders’ battle for independence. Why did they fail?

Certainly, the Confederate leaders believed that it was at least possible to win their fight to leave the Union. Their rhetoric repeatedly invoked that struggle,

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